Beautiful Broken


by
Litgal



Part Nineteen

Xander willingly crawled into bed with Lirowaus, sliding between the demon's legs and curling up with his head on the demon's hip instead of retreating to the footboard. He'd long ago stopped thinking about anything other than Spike's escape. He imagined scenarios where Spike drove the paperclip into a guard's neck and scenarios where he picked a lock. He created fantasies where Spike used the paperclip to short circuit a high tech locking mechanism, and where Spike used mattress padding, toothpaste, and the paperclip to create some sort of MacGyver-worthy bomb. Xander trusted Spike to take advantage of some opening when the security loosened in three days, but he knew that Lirowaus would then move the rest of the stock, so he knew he'd never see Spike again.

He rubbed his cheek against Lirowaus' hip invitingly, and Lirowaus reached down and petted him.

"Such a beautiful pup. If I'd known you would be this affectionate, I would have allowed you to say goodbye to your master long ago. Are you upholding your end of the bargain, or is this something else?" Xander considered his answer as those rough hands caressed his head.

"Something else, master."

"And what is that, my little pup?" Lirowaus asked with a laugh. Xander guessed that the demon was amused for the same reason Spike had been, his lack of detail on any answer.

"Spike isn't my master; I'll never see him again. You're all I have," Xander answered honestly. At one point it would have broken his heart to admit that part of him needed Lirowaus' approval and affection, but he was so broken already that it just didn't matter any more. He just curled up and used his fingers to explore a spot on Lirowaus' leg. Since he slept with this hands shackled it was all he could reach.

"Ah, so my pup has accepted the truth?"

"Yes, master."

"That should make me eager for your services, but even demons need rest. You've made me quite sore in the most pleasant of ways," Lirowaus commented with a huffing noise. Xander didn't point out that he was just as happy for the break. He might long for a touch in his hair so that he could close his eyes and pretend, but he couldn't bring himself to want that attention. He just hoped that the universe was kind enough to kill him before he started wanting that because he knew the day would come. He closed his eyes and laid his head on Lirowaus' inner thigh knowing that he'd probably survive many, many years. The universe had never liked him well enough to do him any favors. Accepting that he had found his place, as miserable as it might be, Xander fell asleep only to be brutally awakened just a couple of hours later.

Xander woke to find the bed tilting under him. Just as he opened his eyes, Lirowaus exited the bed with such speed that Xander became tangled in his master’s limbs and fell from the bed with him. He struggled to get his feet under him, but the hobbles limited his motion so that he fell face-first onto Lirowaus' stomach, causing a mighty exhale but no other protest even as Xander righted himself. When Xander finally got his knees under him, he found a game-faced Spike snarling at a Lirowaus who heaved great breaths as he squirmed on the floor. One demon hand curled into the area rug, gathering the fabric in a fist so that all the wrinkles lay like rays of light from a sun. The other hand grappled at his own thick neck.

"Bet that hurts like bitch," Spike said as he casually backed up and leaned against the wall. Xander secretly rejoiced to see Spike free and yet worried about why Spike had come to Lirowaus' room. Why wasn't Spike going for help? Hadn't Spike gotten his warning to wait three days? Had Spike seen him sleeping curled up between Lirowaus' legs? Xander couldn’t seem to get his brain sorted out as different fears and different hopes got hopelessly tangled in his brain.

"That's the thing about Kailiff demons, crush their necks and they keep on breathin' but the talkin's kinda done for. Bloody handy." Spike smiled, and Xander pushed back into the bed a bit at the sight of the sadistic joy.

"Of course, the soundproofin' helps. Lets me do this." Spike picked up a floor lamp and stomped down on the base to break it off so he had a fairly functional staff. Then he swung that staff like a bat right into Lirowaus' head. Xander started breathing heavy at the sight of his new master's body slamming into the wall before sliding down. The demon's hand braced himself on the floor as legs flailed in an attempt to rise while the other hand continued to clutch at the throat that had been incapacitated with the first blow.

"Soddin' wanker. Ya aren't good enough ta touch him anyway, but ya bloody knew he was mine." Spike swung again and this time Lirowaus' head bounced off the wall and rebounded so that he hit the staff a second time on the recoil. Xander watched the still attached shade vibrate in response to the violence

"I" ... kick to stomach ... "bloody"... kick to knee which bends unnaturally ... "wish" ... punch down into the back ... "I" ... second punch and Lirowaus starts crawling away ... "had" ... kick sends him crashing through a small table ... "time" ... Spike drives a piece of broken table leg through a flailing arm ... "to" ... the impromptu staff pierces the stomach and nails Lirowaus to the floor... "do" ... a hand wraps around that top penis ... "this" ... penis and body part ways, Spike drops the bloody member on Lirowaus' twisted face ... "right" ... Spike grabs either side of Lirowaus' neck and snaps it so that even Xander on the other side of the room can hear the cracking bones.

Spike stood panting unnecessary air as he stood over Lirowaus' broken body, and Xander remained frozen in place. He watched as Spike turned and started walking slowly toward him. Xander felt the tears gather, but he didn't know why. It was over. His new master was dead and now Spike knew how he had allowed Lirowaus to…. Xander’s mind shut down before he could finish his thought, but he knew he’d done more than Spike’s demon could allow. He’d curled up in Lirowaus’ lap. Xander knew that Spike's demon would never take him back after that kind of betrayal.

He’d known there was no going back when he’d first made the deal, and while Spike coming here was a surprise, Xander wondered if the universe liked him well enough to just give him the favor of a quick end. He didn’t dare ask for more. Okay, he could ask for more: a quick end and Spike’s escape. Well, a quick death, Spike’s escape and a rescue for his girls, but he could trust Spike to live up to his word; Spike would save them.

Spike stopped in front of him, and Xander kept his eyes on the floor, trusting that Spike would make his end quick. How funny to expect mercy from a demon, especially one that had just enjoyed such blatant violence. A hand touched him, and Xander tried not to flinch. Tried and failed, but the hand didn't grab or twist, it stroked his hair gently.

“You can’t…” Xander stopped, unable to say out loud the words that had haunted him throughout his time with Lirowaus, so he didn’t; he just begged. “Please, Spike. Please, just let it be over.” Xander kept his gaze down.

“It *is* over, luv. It’s over and you’re safe.” Xander thought about that word, and he didn’t think he would ever understand that word again. He wasn’t safe, he had all these thoughts and memories in his mind that stabbed at him, and Spike couldn’t ever fix that.

“No,” he argued. “It’s not. Please, just let it be over." If he went on, he would have to remember and Xander wasn't strong enough for that. "I want to go with Buffy,” Xander explained, unable to say more than that. The hand on his head stopped.

“Bloody hell no. Xan, you can’t ask me to do that again. I bloody loved the Slayer and feeling her heart stop under me was the closest thing to dying I’ve felt in 120 years. I bloody died twice, I can’t go through it again.” Xander thought about that and thought of those broken liquor bottles in that empty warehouse and then the vampire knelt next to him so close that Xander couldn't escape seeing Spike out of the corner of his eye.

“Leave me,” Xander offered. "Just get the girls out." He understood Spike’s pain, and he could find another way. He would find another way rather than put Spike through that again.

“Not on your soddin’ life, and more importantly, not on mine. I’ll be bloody dust before I’ll leave you. I’m your Master and you’ll come with me.” Xander felt arms suddenly wrap around him and pull him into an embrace, but Xander couldn't respond. His hands were still shackled just like Lirowaus liked.

“Not any more,” Xander said softly, aware that he didn’t belong to anyone anymore. Lirowaus had taken him from Spike, forced him to betray Spike, and now he had no master. He knew what that meant.

“You’re mine, and you’ll stop bein’ mine when I bloody say so and not before you soddin’ stubborn git. I’ll effin’ chain ya to wall and make ya stay with me 'cause you take orders from me.” Xander felt tears really flow at that comment, not out of fear but out of a desire to have that happen, but it couldn’t. What had Spike once told him? Spike had said that he wouldn’t have a weak slave, and Xander had proven to be as weak as they come.

“I betrayed you,” Xander said in a stronger voice. “I betrayed you and disobeyed and gave myself to someone else. So weak; so dirty…” Xander stopped when his breathing became erratic and threatened to release the sobs that he held inside his chest only by a force of will.

“You’re bloody well the strongest bastard I’ve ever met. Giles would’ve gone off his trolley by now, and most people, well they would’ve given up long ago. But you traded your own safety to try and get the girls back, and what ya traded for me…” Spike went silent for a moment. The hand that had embraced him now ran through his hair and pushed his head into Spike’s firm chest. Xander let himself lean into that strong body and pretend for a moment that he was worthy.

“Never would’ve asked ya for that, pet. I know what ya gave up for me, and you’re still the most beautiful human I’ve ever seen. I don’t care if ya talk to stars for the rest of your soddin’ life, I’ll be here and you won’t talk about givin’ up because the bastard I know wouldn’t back down from a Chaos demon if the only weapon he had was a toothpick.”

“But I did,” Xander didn’t even try to stop the tears that flowed down his cheek only to be absorbed by Spike’s shirt. “I backed down. I can’t live with that.”

“You bloody well never did. You charged in and saved my arse after I failed ya. It was my job to protect you, and I didn't. I may have bollocked this up once, but I'm not about to make things worse by leavin' ya. Not in this lifetime.” Spike paused. “Xander?”

“Don’t call me that,” Xander interrupted, “That’s not who I am.”

“Fine, stupid name anyway, but whatever name ya go by, you’re mine and you’ll stay mine, pet.” Xander didn’t really agree as much as run out of energy to fight any more.

"Right, time to go." Xander felt fingers at his wrists, pulling and prodding until his wrists fell apart. Xander brought his hands in front of him just to look at them. They seemed foreign to him after all this time, and he could feel the pull in his shoulders since his body had grown so accustomed to keeping his hands behind his back that holding them out front stretched unused muscles.

Then he felt Spike bodily pick him up and put him on the side of the bed and Xander wondered if Spike wanted to put his own scent on his slave, and Xander didn't argue until he considered where they were and what would happen if anyone caught Spike. Then he started to squirm, but Spike only pushed him back on the bed and sat on his chest as fingers played with his hobbles. But the hobbles only came off when Rocim bathed him. Xander struggled to make some sort of sense of his quickly changing world when he suddenly felt cool air over skin that had grown accustomed to being encased with leather.

"Not goin' to have you hobbled when we may have to make a run for it." Spike said, and Xander slowly worked out the logic in his mind. Spike got off of him, and Xander sat up and kept his eyes on the floor as Spike stood beside him...he knew Spike was watching and was probably smelling him too. He felt dirty to carry another demon's smell, but he was dirty, so the corrupting smell was only appropriate. He felt the tap at his shoulder, and he rose to follow without even thinking. Hell, he didn't think he had enough energy left to think, he thought as he followed Spike at heel.

Spike pulled the bedroom door open, and Rocim stood there, a hand raised to knock and a look of surprise and horror on his face. Spike didn't wait for Rocim's reaction; he reached out and grabbed the minion by his shirt-front and dragged him into the room, slamming the bedroom door shut again.

"Master Lirowaus," Rocim chattered as he saw the mangled lump of flesh and blood with the broken lamp tilting slightly but held upright by the body. The shade on the lamp had managed to stay on through the fighting, and for some reason, the tilting white shade on the tilting brass lamp buried in the bleeding demon body amused Xander. It just seemed so damn illogical. A laugh started as a small tremor down his backbone, but it quickly developed into a sound somewhere between snorting and giggling.

Eventually Xander realized that the other two occupants of the room weren't nearly as amused as he, and he glanced up to see Rocim staring forlornly at his fallen master and Spike staring at him, the vampire's head cocked to one side with an expression that looked suspiciously like concern.

When Xander met Spike's eye, Spike gave a small shake of his head like trying to clear something and then he turned to glance at the body that had captured Xander’s attention.

“Suppose it *is* funny, innit?” Spike said. “Bastard learned his lesson.” Spike’s words both made the sight somehow funnier, and yet they allowed Xander to get control of himself as Spike turned his attention to their captive.

"But how...You were chained," Rocim stuttered.

"You lot may not have underestimated me with chains and guards, but you sure as hell underestimated Xander, and you obviously don’t know the power of the paperclip," Spike said with a cruel laugh.

"So listen up, mate. You're goin' to help us find two witches or you're goin' to end up lookin' just like that." Xander turned to look at Rocim when the man didn't answer and he found that the man hadn't moved. He still stared at his fallen master with his mouth open and a blank, stupid expression on his face. Spike put both hands on Rocim's chest and pushed him back into the wall. Rocim didn't react. Spike shifted into game face and snarled. Rocim didn't react. Spike backed up a step, his expression almost amused in the way he sucked in his cheeks, leaving his cheekbones as sharp knives under suddenly cruel eyes.

Spike stepped close again, only this time he put two fingers right in front of Rocim's eyes. "Ya want to help us 'cause Lirowaus told ya to. He'll be pleased if ya make us happy, mate," Spike said in a suddenly soft tone of voice. "After all, I'm a buyer, came to buy some witches...isn't that right?"

"Yes, witches," Rocim replied tonelessly, and from his position to the side of the drama, Xander could see Spike's triumphant smirk.

"Yeah, witches, so where are the two witches I bought...the redhead with the attitude and her little chum?"

"Witches?" Rocim now seemed to stir a little his eyes moving from Spike's fingers up to Spike's eyes.

"The soddin' witches. Where. Are. They?" Spike asked a little more firmly, moving his fingers up to intercept Rocim's gaze and then moving them gently side to side.

"The red one objected too much. She argued. She got sent ahead. Master will sell her."

"And her chum? Her bonding group?"

"Sell them together." Xander heard Rocim's words, spoken in a dreamy half-voice, and he could feel panic unfurl in his soul. Willow fighting. He remembered that. Her shrill voice and her eyes flashing black. He remembered her demanding Lirowaus give him to the girls. Oh god. Lirowaus' threatening voice and a flash of spells. Lirowaus had asked if he wanted a bonding group, and he had said no. Now those memories widened to include Willow's shocked expression, her tears. Oh god. It was his fault again. Xander struggled to breathe and lost the ability to even track the conversation as Spike continued to work with Rocim. Why hadn't he died back with Leshar? All he had to do was go with the girls and Willow would have shut up, Willow and Tara would have still been here waiting for rescue. But he'd ruined that too.

He felt the tap at his shoulder and for the second time his body rose to follow Spike even though his mind hadn't yet caught up with the order. Hell, he didn’t remember even going to his knees, but now he had an order and he followed as Rocim absent-mindedly led them through a series of hallways and into the main corridor where they had first come into the house.

“But the witches…” Rocim objected when they reached the door.

“Right, got to pick them up, don’t we? Tell the guard at the door to bring a car around,” Spike whispered as a more demonish-looking demon watched them approach. Xander moved so close to Spike that the vampire’s coat brushed against him and when did Spike have a chance to get his coat? What… did the vampire go coat…revenge…rescue? That was a strange set of priorities. Xander then realized that he was standing so close that Spike wouldn’t be able to swing a fist, so he stepped back as Rocim went forward to give the order. The door-demon stepped outside, and Rocim turned with a confused expression. Spike started the finger bit again.

“Pet?” Spike called, and Xander waited. “You’re going to have to drive the car. I need to stay with lackey boy until the last second.” Xander stared at Spike horrified, but he certainly didn’t have a response. Spike must have noticed the terror though.

“Xander, ya drive better than I do, and I need to focus here. I’ve never been as good with this as Dru; hell, I wouldn’t be able to hold him at all except that he’s already so broken and shocked that he’s open to it. You just get in the car, start it, and put it in gear. The minute I get in, hit the accelerator as hard as ya can.” Xander mentally reviewed all the steps he would have to take in order to complete that order.

“Yes, Master,” Xander agreed as he mentally practiced the maneuver. He didn’t bother going to his knees since speed might be required.

“But Master Lirowaus,” Rocim asked in a child-like voice just as the door-demon drove the car up the long drive.

“Will be very pleased that you’ve made a customer happy,” Spike finished the minion’s sentence. “I’ve bought the witches and now I’ll go pick them up. Paid good money for that pair, and Lirowaus wants to get rid of ‘em.”

“The red one makes trouble.” Rocim happily agreed with the voice of a three year old.

“And you’re doing well ta help get rid of them. Lirowaus will be pleased,” Spike assured him in a voice normally reserved for Dru soothing. Xander didn’t hear any more because Spike had waved toward the car and Xander recognized the implied order. Moving just as he’d mentally practiced, he walked toward the car, his bare feet padding over the cold concrete as he walked under the moonlight.

“Hey, isn’t he the master’s pet?” a voice called out just as Xander walked by the door-demon, and Xander just kept moving and kept his head down.

“Run!” Xander heard his master’s cry and he took off for the car just as he felt a demon claw touch his arm. He slipped a bit as he ran around the back end of the car to get to the driver’s side, realizing just a little too late that he should have dived through the passenger side, but in his mind he had practiced walking around the back of the car calmly, so that’s what he did…only without the walking part…or the calm part.

Xander pulled the door open expecting at any minute to be pulled to the ground and tied up, but he managed to pull the door open and slide into the seat, turning the key as he jammed his foot down on the brake in order to slam the car into gear. Only then did Xander look to see Spike fighting both Rocim and the larger door demon. Spike pulled a roundhouse kick on the large demon and Xander moved the gear select from first to reverse as he hit the gas, slamming the back of the car into the demon who then slammed into the side of the house.

Spike grabbed for the car door and threw himself into the passenger side just as Xander put the car into forward and hit the accelerator. For a moment the car remained motionless as the tires spun, but then the tread grabbed the pavement throwing the car forward as Xander watched demons pour out of the house. Only then did it occur to him that they had just abandoned dozens of humans to slavery, but he focused on keeping the car on the path as Spike hurled insults at the demons, their mothers, and their whole demonic family trees.

“Spike?” Xander begged/demanded as he turned a corner and saw the gates. Stop, swerve, crash: he couldn’t make a decision like that. His heart pounded in fear, but then Spike’s voice called out.

“Keep bloody going!” Xander pressed down hard on the accelerator now that the path was straight and hit the gates so hard that he could feel his whole body jerk with the car which skidded sideways, the front bumper caught on the metalwork even if the gate had come open several feet.

“Back up!” Spike ordered, and Xander threw the car into reverse and hit the gas until the tires squealed the car pulled free. Even as Spike ordered him forward he was putting the car back into gear and hitting the accelerator as the car broke through to freedom, the gravel of the public road wildly pinging into the underside of the car as Xander navigated the turns which appeared only when his headlights would suddenly reveal a tree right in front of the vehicle. Xander could feel the sweat down the back of his neck, his butt sticking to the seat uncomfortably so that every time he moved his skin pulled against the leather upholstery. He concentrated on his driving to the exclusion of all else until a voice pierced his awareness.

“…not following. Pet, it’s alright; you can just slow down. We’re about to reach the highway, pet. Ya have to slow down now.” Xander pulled his foot from the accelerator immediately, and he could hear the roaring engine quiet into a purr as the pinging pebbles thrown up from the road slowed to a few individual ricochets.

The car continued to slow as Xander steered without pressing either pedal. Eventually the car stopped in the middle of the road and Spike reached over and turned the car off.

“Right then, no more drivin’ for you for a while. Mind you, that was a nice bit dodgin’ back there.” Xander heard a car door open and felt a hand pull him towards the passenger side. Suddenly so tired that he just wanted to sleep, Xander cooperated, sliding as best as he could with sweat soaked skin over leather and pulling up his legs to clear the gear shift on the floor. The hand released him when he reached the far side of the car, but Xander kept moving even as the door slammed shut. He turned so that he could slide to his knees on the passenger side floor.

The driver side door opened and Spike threw his duster in before getting in himself. Xander started shivering now, his damp skin and the night air combining to steal his warmth, and suddenly he felt a weight over his shoulders. He opened his eyes, wondering when he had closed them, and he looked at the dangling arm of Spike’s duster where the vampire had draped it over his back. Arranging the coat so that it was closer to his face and he could breathe in the leather smell, Xander lay his head down on the seat and closed his eyes, ignoring the vibrations as the car started moving down the road again.





Part Twenty

Xander grew steadily colder and he pulled the duster around his chilled body. He had woken several times as various aches registered and now he woke as Spike pulled the car off the freeway and over a couple of potholes. Xander didn't bother looking out the windows. He just felt numb. A second jet of warm air found his face as Spike redirected another heating vent even as he pulled the car to a stop.

"Pet?" Spike asked.

"Yes?" Xander answered wearily.

"Pet, I have to leave for a minute." Xander wondered how long a minute would be, but he didn't have a right to ask, and he could only hope this wasn't Spike's way of leaving him permanently, not that he'd blame the vampire. He waited for Spike to turn the car off and leave.

"Pet?" This time he didn't answer. If Spike was telling the truth, he wanted Spike to leave so he could come back. If Spike was leaving now that he had come to his senses and realized his slave was too damaged, well then Xander just wanted to be alone so he could cry. He uncurled his fingers from the coat and dreaded the loss of that protection even as he started to push it off his back and toward Spike. A hand landed on his shoulder and held him still. "Xander?" Spike called again, and Xander looked up into blue eyes.

"Xander, you need the warmth from the coat and the heater, but I don't want to leave the car unlocked and running. If I lock you in here with the keys, will you unlock the door for me when I come back?"

"Yes," Xander answered automatically. Spike reached over, and Xander could feel a slightly warm hand against his own face. The hand reached down and Spike put a finger under the black links that made Xander's collar.

"Who put this on you, pet?" Spike asked firmly as he pulled the collar just tight enough that Xander felt it.

"You did."

"And who bought you?"

"You did."

"Who do you belong to?" Xander hesitated at that. He had given himself to Lirowaus, but Lirowaus was dead.

“No one.” Spike sighed, and Xander flinched as he realized that he had displeased again.

“If I gave away the pouf’s precious hotel, sold it right from under his fat arse, who would still legally own the hotel, pet?”

Xander answered easily. “Angel.”



“Right,” Spike smiled triumphantly and Xander could feel his body respond, tension seeping from him as he realized he’d answered right.

“And who owned ya before we went into that wanker’s place?”

“You did,” Xander said quietly, not wanting to remind himself of what he had given up, but another part of his brain nagged at him. He pulled his brows together and tried to figure out what was nagging at him.

“Go on. Say it.” Spike ordered. Xander remained silent as he tried to awaken some part of his brain that kept trying to point something out. Finally the pieces clicked together. Spike had put the collar on him before he'd given himself away, so he never had the power to give himself away. He considered his answer before giving it.

"I belong to you, Master. I couldn’t give myself away because I didn’t own myself." Xander felt the pain in his soul release its hold even as his back and neck checked in with their respective agonies. He was Spike’s, and that should bother him, but it didn’t. What did bother him was that he had allowed someone else to touch him when he belonged to Spike, and Xander’s logical brain sent up flares over that thought, but Xander didn’t take time to process them; he just relaxed into the seat.

As long as he was Spike’s, he could relax because Spike would take care of things…even if the vampire’s version of taking care meant draining him. Considering that he stunk of another demon’s come and thus constantly reminded Spike that he’d had his property stolen right out from under him, he still expected Spike’s patience to snap right before Xander’s neck followed suit. It didn’t scare him or worry him, he just expected it.

"Right. And will you open the door when I get back?" Spike asked again.

"Yes, Master," Xander answered.

"I'll be right back, but I've got to get something." With that Spike swept out of the car and slammed the door with a click of the lock. Xander reached a hand out to finger the leather of the coat Spike had left with him. He pulled it closer as the seconds became minutes and Xander found himself battling his fears. He was Spike’s. Spike wouldn’t leave him. Spike might erase the humiliation of being captured by killing the evidence—namely him—but Spike wouldn’t leave him. Xander was practically chanting that out loud by the time Spike rapped at the window.

Xander hit the unlock button and felt the rush of cold night air as Spike got in again. Xander looked up sleepily and even in the brief flare of light as the door opened he could see that Spike was darker, pinker. That meant someone was dead, and Xander struggled to remember why that was wrong. Failing in his attempts to gather his thoughts, Xander fell asleep again just as a hand began stroking his hair gently.

Xander didn’t wake again until the car stopped in front of an unmarked brick building, and the grey in the sky warned of the coming dawn. When Xander felt the passenger side door open, he struggled to rise and step to his Master’s side, but his legs screamed in pain, and tears instantly ran down his cheeks. He could hear Spike making some sort of soothing noise and then he was wrapped in the coat and picked up. They went through a locked door after Spike used a cell phone to call someone and get them buzzed in, and Xander had insisted he could stand.

Spike let him down during the phone call, but one preternaturally strong arm stayed around his waist, and even through the agony, Xander realized that he was so pathetic that Spike was holding most of his weight. Once inside, Xander continued to “stand” by his Master while Spike supported him. A variety of demons and humans waited within, but a small human-looking being rushed up. Xander tried to focus on his impossibly red hair in order to combat the pain. Only the leather strings had equaled this, and Xander ignored Spike’s curt exchange. Xander wanted to sit…hell, he wanted to lie down and die, but Spike just started walking toward the far end where the redhead had gone through a door. Before they reached their destination, the door slammed open again.

“Oh my, someone has been getting himself into quite a bit of trouble.” A blue demon with thick arms and legs shuffled over even as he bellowed in a deep voice that penetrated Xander’s haze. Xander felt a finger touch his cheek just as he flinched back away, his neck and back and shoulders protesting loudly even as he groaned into Spike’s supporting shoulder.

“Had a car accident; think he’s got whiplash and his heart’s beatin’ too bloody fast.” Spike said, and now Xander realized that Spike was worried about him, which led to thoughts that something was really wrong with him.

“Hmm. Limbs cool, elevated heart rate…bring him in,” the demon gestured, and Xander allowed Spike to mostly carry him into a small room where Spike helped him up onto the table. Something was wrong with the room, but Xander couldn’t figure out what… heck, Xander couldn’t seem to figure out a lot of things right now. A hand wrapped around his wrist, and Xander almost panicked, but Spike’s arm encircled his shoulders and the smell of leather surrounded him. “Yes, humans are terribly fragile. Lay him on his stomach please.” Xander was still trying to figure those words out when an arm lowered him to the table and started pulling the coat off him. Xander grasped the coat refusing to let go, somehow convinced that if he lost the coat he’d lose something horribly important; he just didn’t know what. Words were exchanged, and then the coat was pushed up as Xander was turned to his stomach.

Xander tried not to think about all the things that could happen to him in this position, and the coat now draped over his face as a dry finger poked various parts of back. He inhaled the leather smell just as he felt the tremors start, and then many hands were on him, pulling him up, and Xander couldn’t help it, he started to struggle with muscles that screamed in pain and a feeling like the air had turned to pudding so that he had to push through it.

“Sh, pet. I’m right here, not goin’ anywhere,” Xander heard the words and he clung to the speaker even though his mind couldn’t seem to settle on who was speaking: friend, enemy, ally, master, safety, viciousness. A dozen thoughts chased themselves in his head and he couldn’t grab one. Fragments of conversations floated by as he felt the sharp pain in his arm. He thought Spike was feeding, only that caused a wonderful burning, pulling, sexy feeling, and this just hurt.

“…neurogenic shock…”

“I gave him some of my blood…”

“Little over two hours….”

“…critical…patient.”

“…cold…car heater.”

Xander let himself drift off to sleep without putting all the pieces together.

Xander’s next awareness was of stiff sheets. Then he noticed that his hand was on a very rough blanket. The sensation of tubes up his nose and restraints around his right arm appeared simultaneously, and Xander’s eyes sprang open as he looked down at an arm immobilized by a board and bristling with tubes and needles. He started breathing heavily as he tried to figure out what had been real and what had been fantasy, and then he noticed his cheek. It rested against something warm and smooth and soft. With the tubes in, he couldn’t really smell, but the sight of Spike’s duster folded and tucked under his head told him everything he needed to know. When everything else had fallen apart, including his sanity, Spike had been there. Xander started to shift as a pain in his neck gathered strength, and a blond head appeared in front of him.

“How are ya?” Spike asked. Xander considered his possible answers and the horrible places he could have woken up, like waking up finding himself still attached to Lirowaus, the demon’s penis engorged and lodged inside Xander’s body while he lay helpless, too tired to even pull himself off. Yep, he’d been much worse in his life.

“Fine, Master,” he answered as he tried not to move and set off another wave of pain.

“You’re bloody well not fine,” Spike snapped, and Xander flinched. “It’s alright, pet.” Spike quickly assured him. “Remember back when that fledge knocked ya head first into the tombstone?” Xander almost nodded and the pain stopped him.

“Yes, Master.”

“Compared to that, do you feel physically better, about the same, worse, or much worse?”

“Much worse, Master,” Xander answered honestly.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. I’ll be right back.” Xander didn’t have time to protest being left alone because Spike was gone and Xander hurt too much to shift around to look for him. Before he even had time to mentally complain, Spike was back, another demon in tow.

“Well?” Spike demanded even as he sat on the edge of the bed and pulled Xander into his lap. The movement caused incredible pain, but the comfort of being in Spike’s lap made it more than worth it.

“Moderate shock, some muscular damage, no doubt from the car accident, some anal abrasions, not unusual for a human who has serviced a Kailiff demon. Human bodies really are quite remarkable at healing, which is good considering how easily they break,” the doctor laughed, and Xander didn’t think it was a nice laugh at all.

“Will he bloody heal?” Xander lay curled in Spike’s lap and almost laughed. Healing was way beyond him. He knew he wouldn’t ever heal, but he guessed that Spike meant physically.

“Oh, certainly. The shock was the most severe problem, and the fluids have stabilized him. I would recommend leaving him on the drip and keeping him warm; with those two treatments, he’ll be right as rain. Now the pain is really another issue. He’ll heal on his own just fine, and if you don’t want to pay for treatment, you’re not doing him any long term damage at all.”

“I’m not leavin’ him to suffer,” Spike growled, and the doctor must have made the same assumption Xander did: Spike was out of patience.

“We can administer human drugs to reduce the pain and inflammation or for a significantly larger fee have a healer perform a restorative ceremony.” Xander was amazed that the doctor actually did know how to give a direct answer.

“Get the healer,” Spike said, and Xander felt clever fingers playing with locks of hair. Xander just curled up and pushed aside a thousand worries that floated beneath the surface like depth charges ready to sink his psyche as he took deep breaths and just tried to center himself on Spike’s presence.

“Pet, ya alright?” Spike asked, and Xander did a self-check: curled in a fetal position with his right arm sticking out awkwardly, clinging to Spike’s coat with his left hand as though it was a child’s blankie, and on the verge of crying. Yep, real manly.

“No, Master,” he finally offered.

“Meant the mental part, pet,”

“I know, Master,” Xander answered honestly. “Though physically I hurt too.”

“Yeah, well the physical part I’m not bloody surprised. Remind me not ta let you play bumper cars with a Lexus again, but the healer will be here in a bit. So, what’s not right with the mental part?” Xander thought about the many things not right mentally.

“I got the girls sent away,” Xander settled on.

“You bloody well did not. Lirowaus did that, and he soddin’ paid for it too.” Spike interrupted him. Xander remained silent because he could still remember the look of betrayal on Willow’s face when he had turned down the offer to move into a room with her and Tara. Spike snorted into the silence. “You’re not buyin’ that are ya?” he asked.

“No, Master.”

“Bloody hell. You don’t control the universe pet; you couldn’t have kept Lirowaus from sendin’ her away.”

“But, Master, she argued with him over me. She tried to attack him with a spell only he had some sort of counter-spell,” Xander pointed out, the memories coming more clearly now that he could string his thoughts together coherently.

“And she would have fought over somethin’ else if you hadn’t been there. Red’s not one to take things quietly; the bint took on Angelus, and the only other human I know who ever did that without payin’ the price was you.” Xander felt a hand on his leg, and the twinges of pain didn’t diminish his comfort in feeling that touch. “Both of ya are stronger than ya give yourselves credit for,” Spike offered.

Xander allowed himself to be resettled back into the bed as the healer appeared, dressed in bones and feathers with a long staff that seemed to be covered in rat skulls, though he could be wrong about that. She certainly seemed mystical enough, Xander thought as he lay back, his head on the duster which was in Spike’s lap. The healer chanted and rattled and hummed until Xander finally fell back asleep.

“William,” a deep voice said. And Xander opened his eyes feeling actually human, which considering he was in a hospital that considered humans inferior might not be the best way of expressing the physical wholeness he felt. Of course it didn’t hurt that he was still in Spike’s lap. The voice though…that voice really didn’t belong here.

“Bloody hell, aren’t you supposed to be gettin’ those witches out of Lirowaus’ place? Thought savin’ humans was part of your whole redemption gig,” Spike complained without moving from the bed.

“Giles and the others are handling that. However, I got a tip that you’d brought Xander here, so I thought I would talk to you before Giles got the same tip.”

“You sent Giles? It’s not like I care about the wanker, but I’m surprised you’re lettin’ him go on the rescue…or did he pull his head out of his arse?” Angel took a single step into the small room and stopped.

“Seeing Xander gave him something worth fighting his way out of the bottle for. He’s determined to bring Xander home and destroy whatever gets in his way. But I think we need to discuss this elsewhere.” Angel’s glance landed on Xander, who suddenly felt like the five-year-old dismissed from his elders’ discussions.

“No, we bloody don’t. I leave and Xan is goin’ to go thinkin’ the worst, and I won’t worry him like that.” Spike’s hand tightened on his shoulder and Xander was grateful for both the hand, and for the healer who had taken away the pain that hand would have caused earlier.

“Is he better?” Angel asked.

“Why don’t you ask him?”

“I’m asking you, William. I don’t trust this attachment you’ve formed; you never liked Xander.” A few days earlier, this might have upset Xander, but now he could both see the truth in the words and see that Angel was trying to drive a wedge between them.

“I bloody hated parts of Droopy Harris, but Xan’s mine, and whether you trust me or not he’s stayin’ mine.”

“He’s the same person, and this strategy of trying to get him to separate who he was and who he is now…it isn’t healthy for a human.”

“Not healthy is havin’ people who make ya feel like you’re less just because you’re different. You two just about destroyed him, and you’ll stay out of my soddin’ way now.”

“So he’s better?” Angel asked again.

“Pet, are ya better now than you were in Sunnydale?”

“No, Master.”

“And I’d say his willingness to admit that means he’s better, but we’ve had a rough spot or two since we left.” Xander watched Angel’s eyes narrow suspiciously as he stepped farther into the room.

“He smells of Kailiff demon. What have you done, William?” Angel’s eyes now glinted with gold and Xander pushed back into Spike’s embrace even as part of him suggested that he move so that Spike can move quickly. “Did you let that slaver….”

“Course not, and don’t even suggest it. Got caught unawares, and the boy traded himself to keep me safe. He did something you and Darla and even Dru never did for me; he put me bloody first, and because of that, I’ll put him bloody first, even over you Angelus, so don’t come in here and try to play sire. I’ll knock ya on your fat arse.”

“William, if you really care…”

“And if you finish that by saying ‘let him go,’ I’ll make you eat that god-awful shirt. Do yourself a favor, Peaches; don’t wear yellow. I know how to take care of ‘im better than you lot.”

“I…” Angel got no farther because Xander decided enough was enough. He trusted Spike; he belonged to Spike, and he was just coming to accept that he might even want to belong to Spike, but he didn’t have to listen to Deadboy.

“No.” Xander said in a steady voice.

“Xander, I know you’re really confused, and I understand what you’ve been through…”

“No,” Xander said again. “I’ve been blaming myself since I was five. People have looked at me like I had somehow failed, and I got very good at doing the failing, but that’s not how Spike looks at me. He trusted me to go into Lirowaus’ with him. I helped him get into the slave auctions. I’m going to help get the girls back. Leave us alone, Deadboy.” Xander took a deep breath, not knowing if he’d just gone entirely too far, but he could feel Spike’s arms tighten in a quick hug.

“Wot he said,” Spike insisted. “The two of us might be the ones that always get left behind, but we bloody well have each other. Now, if I can get him well enough to tell you off, I can take care of him just fine, so sod off, sire.” Xander watched as Angel’s face showed minute traces of emotion. The anger and the frustration were easy to spot, but half a dozen others slid across his features until finally he sighed heavily.

“Spike, if you turn him or hurt him, I’ll have to track you down.”

“Not your bloody business, but I don’t plan on either.” Angel nodded at that answer and turned back toward the door.

“I’ll try to keep Giles off your trail, but he’s heard that the next auction is in Nevada, and it won’t take him long to find out where.”

“Like I said, not afraid of that wanker,” Spike insisted.

“You should be. He’s been more Ripper than Giles in the past few days, and if he finds you, it’s not going to be pleasant.” The two vampires locked gazes with each other and Xander wished he could read minds. He knew full well that Angel had avoided staking both Spike and Drusilla back when Spike had been evil. Okay, back when Spike had been more evil, but now the expression hinted at a depth that Xander couldn’t touch. Finally Angel turned to leave.

“Thanks, mate,” Spike said as Angel opened the door. Angel stood frozen with the door open and his back to them, silent and still for several seconds as though considering some profound response, but then he left without another word. Silence filled the emptiness that even Xander could feel in the older vampire’s absence.

“You love him,” Xander whispered. He remembered feeling relief around Leshar, but he couldn’t imagine loving the person who had broken him.

“Yeah, pet. Problem is that Angelus didn’t just break me, he helped put me back together after.” Xander didn’t answer, but he understood. He knew how easy it was to love the person who reached into that pit of desolation and despair and offered a way out. He completely understood that emotion.





Part Twenty-One

Xander sat on the edge of the bed and waited for Spike to tell him what to do. The doctor had cleared him as physically healthy and had even commented that the stench of Kailiff should be gone in a day or two—apparently their scent doesn’t last long, which would explain the need for Lirowaus to go to such lengths. It was a good metaphor for slavery, Xander thought. He had figured out that the stronger the master, the less brutal that master had to be. Leshar hadn’t controlled the slaves nearly as well as Xander had once thought; after three masters he could see that. He broke his slaves so they had no desire to live, but he couldn’t truly control them. Lirowaus’ technique had certainly controlled him, but if Spike had escaped, Xander would have fought back. He wasn’t controlled by Lirowaus, but by the leverage Lirowaus held over him. Spike—now Spike was another story. Xander knew that he belonged to Spike, and he knew that Giles would have a heart attack if he heard Xander say that, but he couldn’t change reality. He just didn’t have the energy to fight back when slipping into his place at Spike’s side was so much easier. Xander wondered if that made him weak. He felt weak.

Spike reappeared in the room after following the doctor out, and Xander let his eyes fall to the floor.

“Oi, don’t start this bollocks again,” Spike said wearily as he picked up the coat, and Xander raised his eyes knowing that his Master wanted him to. Spike met his eye for a moment and just froze. “Bloody hell. Wish I hadn’t killed Lirowaus.” Xander must have looked surprised because Spike continued. “Stop lookin’ at me like ya expect me to walk over and knock ya senseless. If I’d known that the bastard had put ya back so far, I wouldn’t have let him off so easy.” Xander thought of Lirowaus’ body twisted and impaled. That was easy? He resolved to never piss Spike off, but outwardly he limited himself to just sitting and waiting.

“So, ya comin’ or stayin’ here?” Spike asked, and Xander took that as an order, slipping off the hospital bed and going to his Master’s side. He was about to go into a kneel when Spike breezed out the door, and Xander trailed after him like one of those baby geese that trailed mindlessly after its mother. Not that geese were mindless, just sort of stupid, which fit him just fine, Xander decided. His father had always said he didn’t have the sense God gave a goose.

Xander had expected to go outside to the car, but Spike strode down an unfamiliar hall, other demons and humans hurrying to get out of the way and Xander rushed to keep up. They eventually came out into a garage, and Xander recognized the Lexus. Actually, it was a little hard to miss with the front end bashed in, dirt and scratches covering the bottom half, and a cracked front window. Looking at the decrepit car, Xander wondered how he had survived a crash that had done so much damage, but apparently both he and the car were still running. Spike opened the passenger door, and Xander would have slipped to his knees inside, but Spike’s hand fell on his arm, stopping him instantly. He turned to look at his Master.

“We’re drivin’ through Sacramento today. Got ta pick up one or two things and transfer some money. We need ta keep a low profile.” Xander couldn’t figure out what Spike meant until the vampire handed over the coat. Xander slipped the familiar leather on and sat in the car seat, quashing the tremors of fear sent up by that part of his mind that had all the Leshar training, a part that now shared space with the Lirowaus training. He decided that next time he met a demon whose name started with “L” he was going to run screaming for the hills. It was like on Highlander- Xander often wondered why Duncan didn’t just shoot and then behead any immortal with a name starting with K. It would have saved him a lot of trouble. Xander looked out the window as Spike pulled onto the darkened streets, watching the people who strolled the sidewalks and the flashing signs promising “hot babes.”

Xander pulled the coat closer, arranging the collar high around his neck despite the fact that he was a little warm. He enjoyed the scent of the leather, and he closed his eyes and held onto the moment. He couldn’t see his future past rescuing the girls, and he guessed that was okay too. He had betrayed his Master in a terrible way, and he vacillated between a belief that Spike would hand him over to Giles or drain him. He suspected the latter because Spike didn’t like giving up his toys. In a way, Xander was relieved since a lifetime of Giles making him feel…well, making him feel like the loser he truly was…that really was too much to consider. But Xander knew that he would pay for what he had done with Lirowaus; he should have fought and put his faith in Spike to save them. Looking back, the answer seemed so simple.

“What are you thinkin’ about over there? I can hear your brain turning from here.” Spike took a corner fast and Xander resisted the urge to brace himself on the dash. He really did prefer Spike’s driving when he couldn’t actually see the cars they came inches from hitting.

“About how I failed, Master,” Xander answered honestly.

“Bloody hell, you are one stubborn git. I thought Angelus had cornered the market in refusing ta let go of an idea, but when you get something stuck in that head of yours, God or the devil can’t shake it loose. You. Did. Not. Do. Anythin’. Wrong.”

“But, Master, I should have trusted you to fix it.”

Spike didn’t answer as he pulled into another underground parking garage, and Xander was glad he didn’t have to argue about it. He’d screwed up, and now he just wanted to forget it; of course, he couldn’t forget because he knew punishment would eventually come, but he could push it to the back of his mind if his Master didn’t keep asking him about it.

Spike parked and got out. For a moment Xander sat in the damaged car, not sure what to do, but the decorations that Spike had fastened back onto his permanent collar poked him into action. The little crystals from his back chains pressed into his flesh and reminded him that the first “Spike” rule he’d learned was to follow without command, so Xander got out and hurried after his master, his bare feet making funny echoing padding sounds in the fairly small garage.

Xander stood and clutched Spike’s coat around him as Spike talked to a green demon about transportation and clothing and money and weapons and attendance at the Vegas show and whether Angel had been asking around, and a dozen other things that Xander sort of tuned out. He snapped back to attention when Spike caught a set of keys and started for stairs that disappeared down into the darkness. Xander followed, putting a hand out to touch Spike's back so that he could keep up in the dark. The sound of a door opening came right before an overhead light flicked on, illuminating a simple room with concrete walls. Four doors lined one wall, and Spike quickly went over and checked behind the two unlocked doors before unlocking the two exits and examining the darkness behind them. Then he locked and double checked the exits.

Xander had gone to his knees just inside the door and he watched curiously. Spike was getting paranoid. Of course Spike had good cause to be paranoid. Xander started mentally adding up their list of enemies: Giles, Lirowaus’ men, Ulsha, probably Ty, the guy who tripped at him during the last auction, possibly Angel. Xander decided to stop before he made himself paranoid.

"So, are you ready to discuss this, pet?" Spike walked over and held out his hand. Xander stared up blankly until it occurred to him that he was still wearing his master's coat. He shrugged out of the coat and handed it up. Spike tossed the coat at a chair that sat next to a scarred and dented desk. Xander resisted the urge to get up and straighten the coat, but Spike didn't seem in the mood right now.

"So, what do ya think ya should have done?"

"Obeyed you and waited for you to act, Master," Xander answered immediately.

"And what did ya do that was wrong?" Xander risked a confused glance up at his Master since that seemed to be the same question.

"I shouldn't have disobeyed when you told me to not make the bargain. I shouldn't have let Lirowaus touch me. I should have put my trust in you to fix things."

"And I bloody well did fix things, but I couldn’t have done it without you. What did I teach ya about disobeying?"

"That sometimes it's the right way to please you, Master," Xander answered, remembering that rule and that lesson as he'd been tied to the bed.

"Right. I don’t need a bloody slave who waits for me ta do everythin’ for them.” Xander flinched as he realized that’s all he ever would be…a pet, a slave that followed around and waited for a command or waited for the Master to fix things. Wasn’t that what he was doing now? Expecting Spike to fix him? For the first time he wished that Joyce had left him with Giles and Angel. He knew that Angel would have taken him back to LA, and then he wouldn’t have been a burden on anyone: not Giles and not Spike. Well, he would be a burden on Angel, but that didn’t really bother him much. Angel deserved the aggravation.

“Pet, do ya understand what I mean?” Spike asked as he picked up a bottle from a table next to the bed. Viciously untwisting the cap, he took a deep swig and Xander could smell the sharp scent of alcohol.

“Yes, Master,” Xander replied calmly. It was a little too late now to worry about the fact that he wasn’t the type of slave Spike wanted.

“Bloody hell, you don’t understand or you wouldn’t look like a puppy about ta be put down.” Xander flinched at the word puppy as a memory surfaced of a rough hand holding his cock and joking about it being such a good leash since the pretty puppy didn’t seem to use it for anything else.

“Xan,” Spike’s voice demanded attention, and Xander looked at his Master. “Xan, ya have more guts than most, and you didn’t do anythin’ wrong in that house.”

“I let him…” Xander stopped, unable to finish the sentence.

“Come here," Spike ordered, and Xander stood and walked to the bed before going into a Down kneel at Spike's feet.

"Ya bloody well didn’t let him do anything; I did,” Spike caressed his cheek, and Xander closed his eyes and just enjoyed the comfort. Suddenly the hand withdrew, and Spike took the bottle he had been drinking from and threw it against the wall with such force that it shattered into a thousand pieces. Xander flinched away from the sound. “I bloody made the decision to trust the wanker, and I bloody failed you just like I failed Dru and my mum and everyone else. Only difference is they had the good sense ta tell me how I’d failed and you sit there and take all the blame on yourself.”

Xander remained in place, blinking with wide eyes as he watched Spike practically throw himself across the room, grab the chair, and send it flying into the wall so that it collapsed into a heap of broken wood and leather, and Xander almost panicked at the thought of the coat being damaged. He had to curb an urge to rush over and check to see if the coat had suffered any permanent harm.

“I bloody rushed in there when I should’ve called Peaches, but I had to prove to him I could do what he couldn’t…what Giles couldn’t. Some days I’m as soddin’ pathetic as William ever was.” Xander remained motionless, both frightened of attracting Spike’s attention given his current mood and trying hard not to think about what Spike was saying. As long as Spike knew what to do and how to handle things, Xander could abandon himself to Spike and not worry. He didn’t want to worry. He wanted to believe Spike had everything under control, and Xander suddenly realized how screwed up he was to believe Spike was the one with everything figured out. After all, he was the hyperactive twit who got the gem of Amara and still managed to get his ass kicked by Buffy. Spike still paced with short vicious steps. A thought occurred to Xander, and he had an overwhelming urge to know the truth.

“Master?” Xander called quietly.

“And now you probably expect me ta whip ya for not just sittin’ back and lettin’ us both get killed, and I can’t bloody do that. Might make ya feel better ta get punished so you can go on from there, but it wasn’t your bloody fault. And I have no problem using the whip if ya really have screwed up and I have no problem using it in play if it helps ya let out some of that inner pain, but I can’t bloody punish ya for my mistake, and I can’t seem to get you over this soddin’ idea.”

“Master?”

“Worse than Angelus and his bloody nuns. Man had a grudge against one and he just couldn’t let the idea go.”

“Master?” Spike finally seemed to hear him.

“Wot?”

“What did you do with the paperclip, Master?” Xander asked. He had to know if he'd made the right choice. He'd disobeyed Spike and disobeyed Lirowaus, and he didn't even know if it made a difference or if he was just deluding himself. Spike stopped pacing and in a flash appeared beside him.

“Bloody hell, never told ya, did I? They had me chained to a wall in a cell. Every time they’d come into the cell, they’d have one guard at the door and another bringing stuff in…food, cigarettes, books. Had remotes for a TV and a radio too. Lirowaus held up his end, but with the chain locked to the wall, I couldn’t get to the door and fight my way out, and when they did take the chain off, they’d shackle me first. So, I used that paperclip ta pick the lock. Told ya a few years with Angelus would teach ya a trick or two.”

“I remembered, Master,” Xander agreed.

“That’s why you brought the paperclip?” Spike asked, head cocked to one side.

“Yes, Master.”

“Funny that you’d be the one who listened to me considering that we never liked each other back then. But anyway, I picked the lock and hid the open end of the chain. When they opened the door ta bring dinner in kickin’ and screamin’, I waited until they were distracted before I charged them. Since they thought I was chained, they weren’t prepared and I fed on the two guards." Spike's voice grew curious. "Don’t remember what happened to the girl.” Xander didn’t say anything, but he still wondered why the vampire had come for him. He was the living proof of Spike’s mistake, and Spike still came for him.

“Can hear your wheels turning, pet,” Spike said as he sat back on the bed, this time with amusement in his voice. Xander recognized the order even if it wasn’t stated like an order.

“Why did you come for me, Master?”

"Bloody told you it wasn’t your fault."

"But, Master, why did you come for me?"

"Why wouldn’t I come for you?" Spike sounded confused, but that tone quickly changed into something more fierce. "You’re mine, pet." Xander couldn't let himself believe that answer; he just knew that it would have been easier for Spike to walk away. He looked up to find Spike looking at him with a suspicious expression.

“Pet, tell me who didn’t come for you,” Spike demanded, and Xander just looked at him confused.

“No one, Master.”

“Don’t lie, pet. I won’t punish you for things that aren’t your fault, but I will bloody punish you for lying. So tell me who didn’t come for you.” Xander remained quiet and tried to either think of an answer that wasn’t a lie or wait for Spike to get tired and walk away.

“Pet, answer me.”

“No one, Master,” Xander tried again.

“Bloody hell, your heart rate jumped both times you said that, and even you don’t believe the answer or you’d be proclaiming your innocence, so I’m givin’ ya one last chance pet, and then I’m goin’ to insist. Who didn’t come for ya?”

"Master," Xander started sliding backwards on his knees, but a strong finger reached out and snagged his collar. Xander stopped.

"Who didn't come for ya that you'd believe I'd walk away? You're goin' to tell me, pet, because I'm not lettin' this one go." Xander froze in place, unwilling to pull away from that grip, but equally unable to move forward. "Stand up, pet." Xander rose to his feet still uncertain about Spike's mood, and when Spike started removing decorations, Xander tried hard to control the rising panic that crowded into his mind.

Xander wasn't surprised to feel the tap on the knees that ordered him into a punishment position. He wanted to go into position, but some part of his brain protested. If he could get that protest up to his mouth, he knew he could probably talk Spike out of punishment, but he couldn't form the words.

"Now's not the time to decide to disobey, pet. Butt up." Xander allowed the automatic part of his brain take over as he stepped away from the bed and spread his legs out. Leaning forward, he put his hands directly on the floor so that his butt stuck up in the air and his cock and balls hung down. A slim hand rested on his butt, and Spike asked again. "Pet, last chance...I won't have ya comparing me to whatever you're hiding in that mind of yours, so who left ya behind?"

Xander started breathing heavier in anticipation of the punishment, but he didn't answer. While he expected to feel Spike's hand on his backside, instead he felt nothing as Spike walked away. The sound of a door opening and closing almost sent Xander out of position, but he could still hear Spike's footsteps, so he let himself relax into the awkward position.

The first blow hit hard enough and with so little warning that only Spike's supporting hand braced against his back kept him from falling over. As it was, Xander tried to stand out of sheer shock, only to find that same hand holding him firmly down as the low thudding pain with a second strike against his backside. Xander knew the sharp, stinging, cutting pain of the whip and cane, but this was duller, wider, deeper, and a third strike convinced Xander that he had to come up with an answer that his Master liked.

"Master," Xander gasped out, the pain translating into a suddenly warm butt.

"Ready to talk, pet?" Spike asked. "Who left ya behind?" Xander didn't answer right away, and a fourth hit made him squirm under his master's hand.

"Jesse," Xander quietly gasped.

"How'd he leave ya?" Xander felt something made of leather brush his back, and he guessed that Spike had put his implement in the hand that held him down because Spike's other hand now ran over the bruised skin, and Xander could feel the vampire's cool touch draining the heat from him.

"He died. Darla turned him and I accidentally staked him," Xander answered without delay.

"That's not leavin' ya pet, and you're not stupid enough to confuse the two, so you have another answer down in that brain of yours." Xander felt a tear escape and run across his forehead as his head hung down. He didn't want to disappoint his Master, but he didn't have another answer. The trailing tails of the still unseen object flowed across his back as Spike raised it again. Xander tensed as he waited for the blow to fall, and it did, but this time against the back of his legs so that Xander could now see the leather flogger. The unexpected angle of the strike nearly sent him off balance again, but Spike easily held him in place.

"You're comparin' me to someone in that brain of yours, and expectin' me to walk out on ya because of it. I won't have ya thinkin' that, and I won't have ya tryin' ta carry this pain on your own, so if ya expect to sit down in the near future, you’d best come up with a better answer than that." Xander watched the flogger fly toward the back of his thighs again and the blow sent him onto his toes as his thighs joined his butt in sending tingly, hot signals up to his brain in the aftermath of the blow.

"My father," Xander yelped as he watched the flogger pull back for another hit. The pain certainly didn't bother him, but each strike reminded him that he was again failing. The flogger stopped mid-strike so that only a couple of leather tails brushed against his hot legs, then it disappeared from sight and Xander again felt it resting against his back as Spike used the hand that had struck him to now soothe the skin.

"How'd he leave ya, pet? He was still there when I lived with ya." Xander tried to come up with an answer. He honestly didn't know why he'd said that, but now an image of Uncle Cheese rose to the surface. So that's what he said.

"Uncle Cheese."

"Is that supposed ta make sense pet? You goin' light headed there?" Xander did feel a little light headed from standing head down so long, but he felt even more light headed when Spike pulled him back onto the bed, and wrapped strong arms about him from behind so that Xander couldn't move. The blanket under his butt made his inflamed skin itch, but Xander didn't complain as he tried to sort his own thoughts.

"I was six and Uncle Cheese took me in a room..."

"Uncle Cheese? You lot have a real knack for stupid names."

"Says a guy named Spike," Xander snarked back before he engaged the thinking part of his brain and he froze as he realized he had insulted his Master, who just happened to have a flogger next to him. Spike just laughed.

"Right, pax on the names then, tell me what happened in that room." Xander had no idea about the 'pax' part, but he answered the second half of the question.

"He touched me, wanted me to touch him." Xander stopped when he heard a growl from behind him, but when the sound disappeared, he took a deep breath and continued. "He didn't do anything... not really. But Dad walked in and he..." Xander stopped. So much of this didn't make sense. "It wasn't what he did... He stopped looking at me like I was his son." Xander finally blurted out. "Mom hated that she lost her favorite brother and adults shouted at each other and Dad never played ball with me again." Xander knew that probably sounded pathetic, but Spike's arms just tightened.

"When Angel came crawlin' home with the soul, I tried ta impress him or piss him off or get him to do somethin' ta see me. Killed my first slayer to impress him, and all he had eyes for was Darla. Made me want ta walk in the sun. Felt like I'd lost the only thing that made sense, and if Drusilla hadn't needed me, I might've done it. Felt like I'd bollocked it all up."

"But you hadn't, Master. The gypsies did that, not that I have a problem with that because souled Angel is really annoying in a skulking in the shadows kind of way but far less likely to brutally kill random civilians." Xander babbled, and hey, when did he start babbling again he wondered? Okay, no more babbling he decided when he saw the amused expression on his Master’s face.

"Like I care about soddin' random humans," Spike snorted, and Xander didn't comment but he felt a twitch of guilt that he didn't comment. "But I blamed myself and I had to learn to stop doin' that. Not your fault."

"But it felt like he blamed me anyway, Master," Xander said softly.

"Yeah, well am I your soddin' father?" Xander couldn't suppress a shudder of horror at the mere thought.

"No, Master."

"And have I ever left ya behind?"

"No, Master."

"Then get this through your head ya loon: you're mine, and you will bloody well stay mine. I don't walk away from what belongs ta me, and there's no way I'll ever walk away from ya. If ya screw up, I may heat your backside, but I won't leave ya behind ever." Xander leaned back into that embrace and he suddenly felt secure. Little pieces rearranged themselves as Xander truly believed for the first time that Spike would always be there for him, and he felt himself rebuild something vital using Spike as the foundation.

"So, did anyone else leave ya, pet?" Spike asked, and Xander found his thoughts much clearer somehow.

"Willow. I thought she'd always be my best friend, but she started telling Buffy things she didn't even trust me with. I think that's why I started lusting after her... because I didn't want to lose her all together."

"Red just went through a phase where she needed women friends." Xander couldn't help it, even with the flogger lying right beside them on the bed he started giggling. Spike didn't even reach for it.

"Oi, what ya on about now?"

"Willow's phase for needing women is lasting a little longer than I expected, Master."

"Suppose it did. Glinda's a good match for her though, so that's alright. Don't really think Droopy Harris would have been as good of a match." Arms released Xander as Spike slid off the bed and went after the duster, pulling it out of the splinters of the broken chair.

"He probably wouldn't have been, Master," Xander agreed.

"He? So, ya don't think you're the old Droopy Harris anymore, do ya? What's the big difference?" Spike dropped the coat on the desk and Xander stood up from the bed.

"Droopy Harris wasn't gay," he pointed out as his own interest started to show.

"And you are?" Spike cocked an eyebrow up and smiled in an expression that came close to being a smirk.

"Yes, Master." Xander started walking toward his Master, swinging his hips as though he had hip chains, and he could see Spike's eyes instantly turn gold. Xander reached his Master and ran his hands under Spike's t-shirt and the expression went from a near smirk to an out and out smirk complete with even sharper that usual cheekbones. Spike leaned in as Xander pulled off the t-shirt, and when Xander felt a cool finger trace over his still warm ass, he felt a shiver run the length of his body.

"Brings all the blood to the surface, makes it feel good after," Spike whispered and Xander had another full body tremor as a talented finger ran up the warm skin of the back of his thigh. Refusing to be distracted, Xander moved in on Spike's belt even has he buried his head in the crook of the vampire's neck. Xander nuzzled the sensitive skin as he pulled the belt free and worked on the button and zipper.

Once Xander had those open, he reached in for the cock hidden within, the prize that he had dreamed of while Lirowaus had.... Xander halted those thoughts, exiled them as he ran a finger over the slit at the end, feeling Spike now shivering with need. Xander stepped back while holding on to Spike's open jeans, Spike's cock visible in the opening. Now Xander could see the demon features and he pulled his Master towards him using his hold on the jeans.

“Pushy, or pull-y rather,” Spike complained, but Xander could hear the pleasure so he continued pulling his Master right back to the bed.

“Teach me something, Master,” Xander asked as he started pushing Spike’s jeans down. Only then did he realize that he had essentially hobbled his master because of the heavy boots, but Spike just laughed and sat down heavily on the bed.

“Ya always did do things a little back-asswards, pet.”

“Yes, Master,” Xander agreed with a smile as he knelt down to take off Spike’s boots and then pulled the jeans all the way off. Honestly, he couldn’t argue because he often did do things the wrong way around, but he got by. When he folded the jeans and put them to one side, Spike snagged his hand and pulled him to his feet so that he stood between Spike’s legs looking down at his Master.

“Ya want to learn a new one, pet?” Xander didn’t answer as Spike’s hand reached between his legs and forced them apart a little. “Pocket of the jeans,” Spike said huskily, and Xander held out his hand where he had already retrieved the lube that he had found while folding the jeans. Spike smiled and then took and opened the lube, covering two fingers before forcing Xander’s legs even farther apart. Xander tried keeping his hands at his back as proper for a slave, but as Spike reached up and slipped a finger inside to stroke the prostate, Xander lost his balance, reaching out for his Master’s shoulder to balance himself, and when Spike smiled triumphantly, he put his other hand on Spike’s shoulder and widened his feet even more as Spike slipped a second finger in, Spike’s free arm now wrapping around his body and stroking the tender skin of his butt and upper legs. Xander trembled in anticipation and his long uninterested cock swelled.

“Read this one in a book; never let people tell ya that you can’t learn anything from a book, pet.” Spike pulled the pillows behind him so that he was relaxing back on the bed and he wiggled a ‘come hither’ finger to Xander who happily climbed on top. Xander had ridden Spike before so he happily straddled his Master and started lowering himself down onto Spike. Just as he was about to push up and start the action, Spike reached out and caught both of his wrists.

“Hold on ta my shoulders, right up close to the neck,” Spike said with his yellowed eyes gleaming lustily, and Xander swallowed as he did just that at the same time that Spike pulled on his legs, straightening them out so that Xander had no leverage at all and was impaled in such a way that he would never be able to lift himself.

“Here’s where it gets interestin’, pet,” Spike said, and the vampire lifted Xander’s right leg up to Spike’s shoulder followed shortly after by the left leg so that Xander was forced back with his legs sticking straight up into the air on either side of Spike’s head. His grip on Spike’s shoulders the only thing that kept him from falling backwards, but his legs being lifted pushed him down so hard on Spike’s lap that he could feel the vampire’s cock pushed deeper into him than ever. Xander squirmed happily, which was really the extent of his ability to move without falling.

“Funny thing is that humans came up with this and unless you have a very small woman sitting on a very large man, it just doesn’t work. Lucky for us, I’m not human,” Spike said with a predatory leer full of fangs and immediately after, Spike bucked upward. Xander could feel Spike’s cock force itself even farther into him as Spike’s cock and the warm skin of his ass took all his weight and pushed him up into the air. Xander gasped at the feeling of fullness and his cock twitched and demanded release. Only then Spike dropped back down onto the bed milliseconds before Xander came down, impaling himself as gravity took its toll and pulled him onto Spike’s cock as he gasped for air from the rush of sensation his nerves were all sending at once.. The force of the drive and the depth of Spike’s cock and the tender skin of his butt and legs coming into contact with Spike’s own naked groin had Xander squirming and moaning in no time as he considered the advantage of having a vampire lover. Spike bucked upward over and over until Xander found himself begging his Master to come. His own cock leaked a few drops of precum and bounced against his stomach with each supernaturally strong thrust up that sent him several inches into the air.

“Please, Master. Please come. Oh for god’s sake just come,” Xander begged, knowing that if Spike didn’t come soon that his cock could possibly explode. Hell, his cock *would* explode, and he would die the happiest man alive, even if he would be slightly embarrassed to die still impaled on Spike's cock.

“Oi, no patience at all. Could do this all night,” Spike said with a leer, and Xander groaned at the thought. However Xander couldn’t form any words of protest as he threw his head back and moaned as another buck pushed Spike’s cock against his prostate. Then Xander felt Spike stiffen and release, and Xander’s own release followed immediately, his sperm shooting onto his own face as his cock ejaculated for the first time in… Xander couldn’t’ even count the days. Spike laughed as Xander’s face dripped white, and then another spasm sent sperm onto the vampire. When Spike laughed even harder, Xander felt something slide into place in his own psyche.

“Messy git.” Spike chucked as he lowered Xander’s legs and helped Xander up.

“You made me do it, Master,” Xander returned as he flexed his butt muscles and felt the comfortable stretching without the horrible soreness that had always followed….nope, not thinking it.

“Yeah, well it’s still your mess, so you can bloody clean it up,” Spike groused. Xander laughed as Spike gave him a playful slap on the back of the head and got out of bed. Then Xander realized what Spike was offering. He’d made a mess *on* his Master, and now his Master would let him clean it. Even before Lirowaus, Spike rarely let Xander bathe him, and now Xander sprang off the bed and hurried past Spike who hadn’t taken more than a step toward the bathroom; Xander wanted to start the shower so that the water to be just right when his master got there.




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